Skepticism in the Modern Age

Building on the Work of Richard Popkin

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Since the publication of the first edition of Richard Popkin’s classic The History of Scepticism in 1960, skepticism has been increasingly recognized as a major force in the development of early modern philosophy. This book provides a review of current scholarship and significant updated research on some of the main thinkers and issues related to the reappraisal of ancient skepticism in the modern age. Special attention is given to the nature, importance, and relation to religion of Montaigne’s and Hume’s skepticisms; to the various skeptical and non-skeptical sources of Cartesian doubt; to the skeptical and anti-skeptical impact of Cartesianism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and to philosophers who dealt with skeptical issues in the development of their own various intellectual interests.
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Biographical Note

José R. Maia Neto, Ph.D. (1991) in Philosophy, Washington University, is Professor of Philosophy at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He has published extensively on early modern skepticism including, with Richard Popkin, Skepticism: an Anthology (Prometheus, 2007).

John Christian Laursen, Ph.D. (1985) in Political Science, The Johns Hopkins University, is Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. He has published widely on skepticism, cynicism, cosmopolitanism, monarchism, and freedom of the press.

Gianni Paganini, Professor of History of Philosophy at University of Piedmont (Italy) has widely published on the history of skepticism and libertinism, as well as on Hobbes and Gassendi. His most recent book is: Skepsis. Le débat des modernes sur le scepticisme (Paris, Vrin, 2008).

Review Quotes

Ceci revient, d’une part, à inclure dans une telle histoire des auteurs dont les liens avec le scepticisme n’ont pas été jusqu’ici étudiés de façon systématique et, d’autre part, à procéder à des réévaluations critiques de la fonction et de la nature du scepticisme présent chez des auteurs dont le lien avec cette tradition a déjà été relevé.
Archives de Philosophie, cahier 2011/1, tome 74, Printemps, p. 212-215.

Table of contents

Introduction, José R. Maia Neto, Gianni Paganini, and John Christian Laursen
Richard Popkin and his History of Scepticism, Jeremy Popkin

1. MONTAIGNE AND HIS SKEPTICAL BACKGROUND
The anthropological argument: the rediscovery of ancient skepticism in modern thought, Danilo Marcondes
The current debate about Montaigne’s skepticism, Vicente Raga Rosaleny
On skeptical fideism in Montaigne’s Apology for Raymond Sebond, Sérgio Cardoso
Montaigne’s radical skepticism, Luiz Alves Eva

2. EARLY MODERN THINKERS CLOSE TO SKEPTICISM
Skeptical aspects of Francesco Guicciardini’s thought, Newton Bignotto de Souza
Probability, certainty and facts in Francis Bacon’s natural histories, Silvia Manzo
Skepticism and cynicism in the work of Pedro de Valencia, John Christian Laursen
Periegesis and skepticism: La Peyrère, geographer, Frédéric Gabriel
Skepticism, belief, and justification, Plínio Junqueira Smith

3. SKEPTICISM AND POLITICS
Absolutism and despotism in Samuel Sorbière:
notes on skepticism and politics, Lorenzo Bianchi
Montaigne’s and Bayle’s variations: the philosophical form of skepticism in politics, Renato Lessa

4. SOURCES OF CARTESIAN DOUBT
Aristotle’s perplexity becomes Descartes’s doubt:
Metaphysics 3, 1 and methodical doubt in Benito Pereira and René Descartes, Constance Blackwell
Descartes and Renaissance skepticism: the case of Sanches, Gianni Paganini
The hyperbolic way to the truth from Balzac to Descartes: «Toute hyperbole tend là, de nous amener à la vérité par l'excès de la vérité, c'est-à-dire par la mensonge»
Giulia Belgioioso

5. SKEPTICISM IN EARLY CARTESIANISM
Early German reactions to Huet’s Censura, Jean-Robert Armogathe
Acquired skepticism in the seventeenth century, José R. Maia Neto
Skepticism and solipsism in the eighteenth century: returning to the egoist question, Sébastien Charles

6. HUME
Skepticism and religious belief in A Treatise of Human Nature, Lívia Guimarães
Criticism and science in Hume, Frédéric Brahami

Index of Names

Readership

All those interested in intellectual history, the history of early modern philosophy, and the history of religion and theology.

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